Military Service Prepares Future Nurses

Christopher Bell

When Chamberlain University Indianapolis Campus President Christopher Bell DNP, RN, EMT-P worked as a navy medic, he was doing all the clinical activities as a nurse would in the civilian world, but he wasn’t a nurse.

Dr. Bell has had an interesting career path since being a navy medic. He was promoted to an aviation physiologist where he trained senior level naval officers to handle everything from extreme G-forces while flying to bailing out of airplanes unharmed at high altitudes. After that, he deployed to Puerto Rico with a few other medics who, at the time, were filling out paperwork for the Medical Enlisted Commissioning Program that offers enlisted men and women a chance to earn an entry-level nursing degree followed by an appointment in the Nurse Corps. Dr. Bell attended nursing school at Jacksonville University and eventually was stationed at a naval hospital in Guam. After retiring from the military, he worked in a variety of hospitals in medical surgical units, obstetrics and gynecology and eventually as the Director of an Emergency Department before moving into nursing education. 

“The transition from the military to nursing was a natural transition for me since I was already practicing nursing skills every day as a medic. My job was to train those going into the field of battle how to take care of patients since as a medic we didn’t leave the states,” said Bell. 

The discipline in the military was part of a seamless transition to nursing. “Civilians can have a more challenging time with the strict rules of nursing school where you must wear a uniform and maintain a strict schedule. These expectations are part of military culture and I find that students on my campus who were in the military before joining us, are able to transition easily to the expectations in nursing school,” Bell shared. 

The same goes for Ivan Vazquez, a student at Chamberlain University College of Nursing’s Atlanta campus, who also serves in the National Guard. “I went into nursing school because nursing is an honorable profession that went parallel with my military career. It encompasses many of the values that were instilled in me while serving active duty in the military,” said Vasquez. “I always wanted to be a nurse but had never made the decision to pursue it until I found Chamberlain.”

"In the military, following orders and the chain of command is how interactions happen and the exchange of information in the clinical setting can be similar. When working at a hospital, you must follow the direction of your nurse director or the physician or patient care can be impacted.”

Christopher Bell, DNP, RN, EMT-P
Chamberlain University President, Indianapolis Campus

Vazquez explains, “the military has added experience in working under pressure and maintaining my bearing while working in a fast-paced emergency environment. Because of this, I think that my capabilities will be a great addition to any emergency department team. Furthermore, the experience as a leader and soldier has given me the knowledge necessary to become a great leader in the nursing profession.” 

Chamberlain is committed to providing quality and accessible nursing education to members of our nation's military community through the Military to BSN Option. Students in the Military to BSN Option will take three military-specific courses that bridge the gap between previously gained knowledge, skills and abilities and the expected learning outcomes in the BSN program’s foundational courses.

For more information visit, chamberlain.edu/military.

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